Continuing to give love reaps reward

Rev Mark Pexton, of Leven Baptist Church
Rev Mark Pexton, of Leven Baptist Church

You will see me walking around Leven with my dog – a large greyhound.

He is the second greyhound we have had. Both of them have been retired racing greyhounds who, if they hadn’t been rescued, would have been put down, as sadly all too often happens with greyhounds who have reached the end of their racing career.

They are fantastic pets; please check out the likes of Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary or Greyhound Rescue Fife.

The reason I mention this is, I want to share a story regarding our first greyhound. We used to while away time together walking.

When I went to my study to work, she would follow me and curl up under my desk at my feet. I really bonded with that dog.

But it wasn’t always like that.

You see, when we first got her, it became clear that, previously, she must have been harshly treated. The result was she was terrified whenever any human being approached.

Living with her was terrible. She wanted nothing to do with us.

She didn’t even want to be in the same room as us. We couldn’t get anywhere near her, because of her suspicion and mistrust.

This went on for weeks. We really were quite discouraged. What were we to do?

Well, we had two options. Either, we could give her back and say ‘sorry, but this is not working out’.

Or, we could persevere and keep on offering her love – despite the fact she didn’t seem at all interested.

Well, we chose to keep her. And for months, she still wanted nothing to do with us. But then one day, I came home – and, out of the blue, she came up to the front door and said hello. And from that day on, her trust began to grow, until eventually, she became my constant companion – always wanting to be at my side.

I share this story to encourage us to reflect on the difference persevering love can make. We can come across people who seem to reject any kindness we offer them. And we might be tempted to walk away.

But often, such rejection from people to whom we offer love is only the symptom of previous hurts, and it takes persevering love to break down the barriers and build trust.

I hope we, as individuals and as churches, offer persevering love. After all, as Christians, that is exactly our understanding of how God is with us.

God could look at us and think ‘they are not like I wanted my children to be’. He could say ‘I think I’ll hand them back and get better ones’.

But he doesn’t! He perseveres in love.

‘God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).

Persevering in love makes all the difference!